December 06, 2013

Numenera: the Scuttling Vivisctors and the Aquarium

For the last few months I've been running Numenera. It’s been a lot of fun, the system is light enough to grasp immediately but with enough hooks and crunchy bits to keep it all from feeling too samey. It’s setting drifts far enough from standard fantasy to let me go very weird early and often. The one rule my brain can never remember is GM Intrusion. Any time you would pixel bitch or whatever a player in another game you instead offer a GM Intrusion. If they accept they get XP and bad things happen to them. If not then nothing. All those times my players should have said “We search the room!” and instead walk into certain doom I must preface with “Would you like to be hosed?” I should give my players a little flag to wave when I screw them over to remind me about it. A session report follows:
Meanwhile, in the Ninth World, word had begun to spread that a cache of numenera had been discovered somewhere outside Jaston. Being of a parochial sort the locals wouldn't touch the stuff, so traders, thieves, and greedy folk of all sorts were descending on the town. This included the party, a dashing jack in a hat, a shady nano cobbled together from spare parts and meat, and a chilling glaive wielding a glass sword. After a short stop in Jaston, long enough to piss off an entire bar, punch their way out, and pick up a floating local nanokid, they set off in the direction of the crevasse where the numenera had been found. After a day’s travel they stopped at Genson’s farm. The place was deserted, with nothing but a half-mad, badly wounded aneen still alive. The discovery of a trapdoor in the main house led them into the basement, but not before releasing a pair of shadowy, flying things into the evening air. The remains of Genson and his family were found below with horrible weals and deep bites marring their forms.
Their paranoia raised, the party barricaded themselves inside the farmhouse and set watch for the night. Soon a tremendous banging began at the windows and doors as somethings tried to force its way inside. The black squamous things had returned with their brood, forcing up the door and windows and flying inside. The group repelled the creatures with esotery and bolt, and was nearly overwhelmed before a timely kitchen fire drove the things off, leaving one of their number oozing black ichor and sparking in its death throes. The party decided to sleep the rest of the night in the open air, protected by a roaring bonfire.
After an uneasy night in the open the group continued on to the crevasse. It cut a deep scar across the rolling plains, bisecting an ancient ruin. A long hallway lay open to the air, pale stone or synth gleaming at the bottom. After a short climb they reached the closest tunnel. Through it was a large round chamber filled with glowing symbols that made slow pirouettes around the room, while smaller gleaming discs scattered and wheeled like schools of fish. The discs were attracted the party, but gave painful shocks to whoever they touched. This distracted everyone from the scuttling vivisectors hidden behind the swirling holograms. These lobster-like synthetics had arrays of scalpels and surgical tools on long articulated arms with which they attempted to implant the discs into the group’s bodies. After a confusing melee the vivisectors and most of the discs lay in pieces on the dusty floor. We ended the session there.
The Aquarium
This circular room is full of confusing holographic displays and a cloud of schooling AI. Hiding behind the displays are scuttling vivisectors.

Schooling AI are small discs that float freely in the air and deliver jolts to whatever they touch. They are controlled by simple processes that keep them moving in schools throughout a set area. These are level 1 foes, but they cannot be hit by normal weapons. PC’s in the area of a school of these things take a point of Might damage each round from electric shock, ignoring armor.

Scuttling Vivisectors are synthetic creatures that look similar to marine lobsters, but bristle with surgical tools. They are level 2 foes, but hide at Level 3. They will attempt to implant Schooling AI discs into PC’s on a successful attack. Implanted discs deal an extra point of damage each round. PC’s with 4 or more discs implanted will be lifted into the air and all actions will be one step more difficult.

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

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